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Americans’ Climate Fears Gave Democrats the White House in 2020—Study
The 2020 presidential election may have swung to Joe Biden's side thanks to fears surrounding climate change.
A new report from CU Boulder's Center for Environmental Futures (C-SEF) revealed that many voters in the 2016 and 2020 elections were driven to cast their ballots based on climate change concerns. This influence may have won the Democrats the election in 2020.
The researchers say the same concerns could influence votes in the coming 2024 election. The report concluded that if it wasn't for the climate change issue, the Republicans may have won a 3-percent swing, enough to win the 2020 election.
"We analyzed multi-issue polling data from the voters in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. We found that how important voters considered climate change to be as an issue was one of the strongest predictors of whom they voted for in 2020, especially among independents," the report said.
Comment: How frightening to see the climate change before our eyes – is this the last New York snow I’ll see?
Emma Brockes @ The Guardian
It hadn’t snowed in New York City for 701 days – a record – so when it started to come down on Tuesday, children’s jaws dropped like kids seeing bananas for the first time after the second world war. Older people, if they had lived in New York for more than a few years, promptly ruined the moment by pointing out it wasn’t real snow, there wasn’t enough for school to be cancelled, and it was unlikely to accumulate sufficiently for sledding. Ah, the magic of adulthood.
It is alarming to see the environment change in one’s lifetime, and this isn’t anything close to a lifetime. Even a decade ago, New Yorkers were used to the city shutting down for a week at a time when the latest massive snow storm came in. In February 2010, a total of 36in fell in the city, part of a winter of 51in of snow. In 2006, a blizzard dumped 26.9in of snow on the area, a record rivalled 10 years later when so much snow fell across the state that the governor briefly banned travel. The cold front on Tuesday, by contrast, dumped, or rather lightly dusted, Central Park with about an inch of snow, followed almost immediately by rain. By the time schools let out, grumbling parents forced to head to the park watched in amazement as their snow-deprived children screamed with joy at the grey chips of ice.
Greenland Losing 33 Million Tons of Ice Per Hour Due to Climate Crisis
New research on the rate at which Greenland's glaciers are melting shed new light on how the climate emergency is rapidly raising the chance that crucial ocean current systems could soon collapse, as scientists revealed Wednesday that the vast island has lost about 20% more ice than previously understood.
Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory led the study, published in Nature, which showed that Greenland's ice cap is losing an average of 33 million tons of ice per hour, including from glaciers that are already below sea level.
First polar bear to die of bird flu: What are the implications?
Climate change is a threat to polar bear's survival. Now they have a new deadly challenge facing them: bird flu. It was recently confirmed that a polar bear from northern Alaska has died from the disease.
The current strain of H5N1 influenza has affected a far wider range of species than any previously recorded strain. This has included several mammal species, such as foxes, otters, mink, sea lions and seals (including, for the first time, seals in Antarctica). Cases have been detected in humans, too.
However, while some cases in mammals have been associated with large numbers of animal deaths, the few cases in humans have, so far, shown only mild symptoms or have been asymptomatic. So, why are there such differences between species, and what are the implications of this polar bear's death for the wider polar bear population, as well as other large mammals and humans?
An unprecedented flu strain is attacking hundreds of animal species. Humans could be next.
The Washington Post
It felt like watching one of those blockbusters about the end of the world. Like witnessing an apocalypse, but in real life. Which, in a way, it was.
The beaches of Valdes Peninsula in Argentina, normally so packed with elephant seals that time of year it is impossible to stroll along the shore, were desolate except for hundreds of dark, rotting carcasses — nearly a whole season of seal pups dead, with gulls pecking at the remains.
Instead of the usual cacophony of guttural honks that drowns out the waves during breeding season, the eerie silence was only broken by the sound of a few remaining elephant seals shaking their heads, snot running down their protruding, namesake noses.
“You felt like a bomb had exploded,” said Martín Méndez, recalling the scene he witnessed in October during an annual survey of southern elephant seals in that stretch of coastal Patagonia.
Trawling the bottom of the ocean is kicking up tons of carbon dioxide
The Japan Times
[…] Bottom-trawling ships deploy huge weighted nets — up to half a mile (0.8 kilometers) in length — that scour the ocean floor to scoop up shrimp, crab, cod, halibut and other fish. Scientists and environmentalists have long opposed bottom trawling for the damage it inflicts on seabed ecosystems such as coral reefs, and for killing sea turtles, sharks and other non-targeted marine species inadvertently caught in the drag nets.
There’s also a climate cost to be paid, according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. Researchers calculated that bottom trawling’s disturbance of CO2 sequestered in seabed sediments results in as much as 370 million metric tons of the greenhouse gas being released into the atmosphere each year. That’s more than twice the CO2 emitted by the global fishing industry’s burning of fossil fuels.
The authors of the new paper also estimated that any released CO2 that remains in the ocean is acidifying the surrounding waters, which can dissolve the shells of crabs, mussels, sea urchins and other seafood people depend on.
Top Climate, Air and Water Polluters in the United States
University of Massachusetts — Amherst
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) today published their latest Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index, Toxic 100 Air Polluters Index and Toxic 100 Water Polluters Index, revealing the top industrial polluters in the United States. […]
All of PERI’s updated publications are based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figures for 2021, the latest year for which data have been published. […]
Vistra Energy, Southern Company, Duke Energy, Berkshire Hathaway and American Electric Power are the top five companies for direct release of greenhouse gases from industrial facilities, according to the Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index. […] While the top 10 is dominated by fossil fuel-burning electric utilities, ExxonMobil appears at No. 9, based largely on releases from its oil refineries. The complete list is available online at greenhouse100.org.
LyondellBasell Industries, Kaiser Aluminum, BASF, Indorama Ventures and Salzgitter top the Toxic 100 Air Polluters Index, based on the EPA’s estimate of total potential chronic human health risk from toxic chemical air pollutants. […] The full list is available online at toxic100.org.
The top five companies on the Toxic 100 Water Polluters Index are Dow Inc., LyondellBasell Industries, Celanese, Huntsman Corp., and Honeywell International.
Supreme Court appears ready to erode Chevron doctrine
The Supreme Court appears to be seeking a way to diminish the Chevron doctrine — without completely overruling the 40-year-old legal theory that helps federal agencies defend their rules on public health, food safety and climate change.
During oral arguments Wednesday morning in Relentless v. Department of Commerce, the more moderate members of the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative supermajority questioned why it was necessary to go as far as to overturn a legal doctrine that the high court has declined to use in nearly a decade.
“How much of an actual question on the ground is this?” asked Chief Justice John Roberts, noting the court’s move away from Chevron, which says judges should defer to federal agencies’ reasonable interpretation of their power under ambiguous statutes.
The doctrine, established in a 1984 case that environmentalists lost, has in recent years become a point of frustration for conservative justices who see Chevron as a way to give the executive branch an unfair leg up in legal battles over their regulations.
200 US cities will fall short of sustainable energy goals despite pledging to transition to renewable sources by 2050
200 US communities will fail to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 despite their pledges to do so, according to a new study published in … Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability.
The study shows that by 2050 gas will firmly remain the primary source of energy in the US given that the current infrastructure plans for implementing renewable energy cannot provide sufficient energy output. Recent projections suggest that renewable energy generation will need to triple to meet even a 45% share of energy production. The results indicate that in many instances renewable energy is used as an additional source to meet growing energy needs, instead of a transitional tool away from fossil fuels.
IMF chief urges countries to shift fossil fuel subsidies to fight climate change
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday that countries need to shift some $7 trillion in direct and indirect annual subsidies for fossil fuels to help finance the fight against climate change.
Georgieva told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the total fossil fuel subsidies include $1.3 trillion in direct government subsidies as well as indirect subsidies that include failure to price carbon emissions, adding that this price needs to be set at $85 per ton by 2030.
Pricing carbon at 25% of that rate would generate $800 billion in funds that could be used to abate climate change, while a 50% rate would generate $1.5 trillion, she said during a climate panel that also featured World Bank President Ajay Banga.
"So my point is let's get to bringing resources, taking them from where they hurt to putting them where they help," Georgieva said.
The Case for Capping Wealth at $10 Million
The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, began on January 15. As has become a yearly ritual, the global business and political elite have gathered to discuss how public-private partnerships can tackle what the WEF sees as the world’s most urgent problems: geopolitical instability, wars, and the consequences of AI.
Yet one issue on which the WEF has been largely silent is the extreme and growing wealth inequality. Well-meaning businesspeople do sometimes care about inequality, but they mostly understand it as a problem of poverty—not of wealth concentration. Unsurprisingly, since so many of them of are billionaires, Davos participants tend to avoid the moral and political questions raised by extreme wealth concentration. […]
Another reason we should limit personal wealth is that wealth concentration accelerates ecological destruction. Very wealthy people are disproportionally responsible for climate change, both because of their luxurious lifestyles and their investments in the fossil industries. While the annual emissions per person for the poorest 50 percent of the world population are less than one and a half tons of CO2 per year, the top 1 percent emits on average 101 tons per person and billionaires’ luxurious lifestyles can cause carbon footprints of several thousand tons.
The truth about climate injustice is… the 1 percent are sitting on the fortunes that can address the climate crisis.
Human ‘behavioural crisis’ at root of climate breakdown, say scientists
Record heat, record emissions, record fossil fuel consumption. One month out from Cop28, the world is further than ever from reaching its collective climate goals. At the root of all these problems, according to recent research, is the human “behavioural crisis”, a term coined by an interdisciplinary team of scientists.
“We’ve socially engineered ourselves the way we geoengineered the planet,” says Joseph Merz, lead author of a new paper which proposes that climate breakdown is a symptom of ecological overshoot, which in turn is caused by the deliberate exploitation of human behaviour.
“We need to become mindful of the way we’re being manipulated,” says Merz, who is co-founder of the Merz Institute, an organisation that researches the systemic causes of the climate crisis and how to tackle them.
Merz and colleagues believe that most climate “solutions” proposed so far only tackle symptoms rather than the root cause of the crisis. This, they say, leads to increasing levels of the three “levers” of overshoot: consumption, waste and population.
Extreme heatwave in East Antarctica caused by record-breaking ‘atmospheric river’
British Antarctic Survey
Scientists have identified the intricate meteorological drivers that led to an intense heatwave across East Antarctica in from 15-19 March 2022. The heatwave, which affected an area of the size of India (3.3 million km2), was driven the most intense ‘atmospheric river’ ever observed over East Antarctica.
New analysis of this extreme event is the subject of two companion articles published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate.
This record-shattering event set a new all-time high temperature record of -9.4°C on 18 March near Concordia Station on the Antarctic Plateau in East Antarctica, with temperatures some 30°C – 40°C above average. March is typically a transition month into Antarctic winter at Concordia Station, with daily average temperatures peaking at around -40°C –50°C.
What’s Behind the ‘Arctic Blast’ Plunging into the U.S.?
After months of record-breaking warm temperatures, much of the U.S. is facing a harsh, fast-approaching blast of frigid air from the Arctic that could plunge wind chill factors below zero degrees Fahrenheit (–18 degrees Celsius)—all close on the heels of a serious winter storm dumping snow over the Midwest and Great Lakes this weekend.
“It will be a very impressive—certainly one of the most impressive Arctic outbreaks of this century anyway,” says Judah Cohen, a climate scientist at the company Verisk Atmospheric and Environmental Research. […]
Scientists are still trying to pin down precisely what causes these disruptions. “It’s a very active area of research and something that scientists are passionately debating and trying to figure out at the moment,” [Kristina Dahl, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists,] says. “It’s definitely not settled science.”
Still, many experts believe climate change likely plays a role—and Cohen goes even further: he contends that climate change in the Arctic is directly disrupting the polar vortex. According to Cohen, this winter’s melting sea ice near Scandinavia coupled with high snowfall near Siberia to set up a thermal contrast, which he says drove the polar jet stream into waves. The polar vortex typically “wakes up” around January, he adds, so it makes sense that we’re now feeling the sharp chill from an Arctic blast whose stage was set by these distant trends.
“It seems very counterintuitive and surprising that a warmer planet can actually increase your odds of experiencing severe winter weather events—but that’s what our research has shown,” Cohen says.
Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state confronts flood damage after heavy rain kills at least 12
AP News via ABC News
Neighborhoods in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state remained flooded Monday more than a day after torrential rains that killed at least 12 people.
The heavy downpour wreaked havoc over the weekend, flooding peoples’ homes, a hospital, the metro line in the city of Rio and a main freeway section, Avenida Brasil. […]
In February 2023, heavy rain caused flooding and landslides that killed at least 48 people in Sao Paulo state. In September, flooding from a cyclone in southern Brazil killed at least 31 people and left 2,300 homeless.
At the same time, the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has faced severe drought. Scientists say extreme weather is happening more frequently due to human-caused climate change, and 2023 was the hottest year on record.
The drop in Panama Canal traffic due to a severe drought could cost up to $700 million
A severe drought that began last year has forced authorities to slash ship crossings by 36% in the Panama Canal, one of the world’s most important trade routes. The new cuts announced Wednesday by authorities in Panama are set to deal an even greater economic blow than previously expected.
Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez now estimates that dipping water levels could cost them between $500 million and $700 million in 2024, compared to previous estimates of $200 million.
One of the most severe droughts to ever hit the Central American nation has stirred chaos in the 50-mile (80-kilometer) maritime route, causing a traffic jam of vessels, casting doubts on the canal’s reliability for international shipping and raising concerns about its affect on global trade.
Common insecticides may hamper shorebird migration
The Wildlife Society
The insecticides that protect crops from pests may be causing obstacles for the long-distance migration of shorebirds.
Researchers have discovered that species like lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) ingest relatively large quantities of neonicotinoids indirectly through their insect prey or water from wetlands embedded in farmland. The birds don’t directly eat the seeds.
“We’re reporting the highest concentration in a wild bird that isn’t consuming treated seeds directly,” said TWS member Shelby McCahon, a master’s student in natural resources at the University of Idaho.
A growing body of research is uncovering the problems that neonicotinoids are causing bees. While these insecticides are designed to combat crop pests, they can also cause problems, or even death, for other invertebrates.
When it comes to climate change, we should be paying more attention to our oceans
By now, most people are well aware that 2023 was the hottest year on record, coming in at 1.48 C warmer than the pre-industrial average from 1850-1900. This beat out 2016's record of 1.25 C.
In climate terms, an increase in warming by 0.23 C is considerable and climate scientists are still trying to figure out why it happened.
Was 2023 just a big blip on the upward trend of global warming? Perhaps. Scientists are trying to tease out all the potential contributors.
But one of the things that is inarguably a contributor is the continued warming of our oceans
Last year, our oceans were the hottest on record. It was the first year in which the average global sea surface temperatures (SST) — that is, temperatures of the upper metre of water — surpassed 1 C compared to pre-industrial levels.
Global warming pushes ocean temperatures off the charts: study
AFP via phys.org
In 2023, the world's oceans took up an enormous amount of excess heat, enough to "boil away billions of Olympic-sized swimming pools," according to an annual report published Thursday.
Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet and have kept the Earth's surface livable by absorbing 90 percent of the excess heat produced by the carbon pollution from human activity since the dawn of the industrial age.
In 2023, the oceans soaked up around 9 to 15 zettajoules more than in 2022, according to the respective estimates from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Chinese Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP).
Coral bleaching, erosion and mass fish deaths in Far North Queensland after Tropical Cyclone Jasper
ABC News (Australia)
Sophie Kalkowski-Pope has been diving the Great Barrier Reef since she was a little girl, but her first dive since Tropical Cyclone Jasper dumped metres of rain left her in tears.
The young Queenslander and her family were devastated to discover bleaching on previously vibrant reefs and algae-covered corals during a dive near the Frankland Islands south of Cairns.
"I held my mum in the water while she cried into her mask, looking out at what we were seeing, which was effectively just dead coral for hundreds of metres," Ms Kalkowski-Pope said. […]
Scientist and conservationist Nigel Brothers has been calculating the environmental damage along a 10-kilometre stretch of shoreline where the rainforest meets the reef.
He said a "conservative estimate" suggested 10,000 fish — from about 30 species — had died.
Climate change isn’t producing expected increase in atmospheric moisture over dry regions
National Center for Atmospheric Research
The laws of thermodynamics dictate that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, but new research has found that atmospheric moisture has not increased as expected over arid and semi-arid regions of the world as the climate has warmed.
The findings are particularly puzzling because climate models have been predicting that the atmosphere will become more moist, even over dry regions. If the atmosphere is drier than anticipated, arid and semi-arid regions may be even more vulnerable to future wildfires and extreme heat than projected.
The authors of the new study, led by the U.S. National Science Foundation National Center for Atmospheric Research (NSF NCAR), are uncertain what’s causing the discrepancy.
“The impacts could be potentially severe,” said NSF NCAR scientist Isla Simpson, lead author of the study. “This is a global problem, and it’s something that is completely unexpected given our climate model results.”
Thousands of tree species at risk of extinction in Atlantic Forest: study
The Atlantic Forest, located along Brazil’s southern coast, has been in dire straits for decades, with expanding cities and agriculture leaving only a small fraction of the forest standing today. But the situation might be even worse than previously thought.
Several thousand tree species in the forest are threatened with extinction, a new study has found. Over 80% of endemic tree species are at risk of going extinct — and that’s a conservative estimate, the researchers said.
“The conservation status of the Atlantic Forest tree flora is alarming but probably worse in reality,” the study, published this month in Science, said.
It found that two-thirds of the populations of all 4,950 tree species that make up the Atlantic Forest are threatened with extinction. Lead author Renato Lima said he and the authors knew the situation was critical but weren’t expecting it to be this bad. They were shocked when they got the results.
Climate change threatens global forest carbon sequestration, study finds
University of Michigan
Climate change is reshaping forests differently across the United States, according to a new analysis of U.S. Forest Service data. With rising temperatures, escalating droughts, wildfires and disease outbreaks taking a toll on trees, researchers warn that forests across the American West are bearing the brunt of the consequences.
The study was led by University of Florida researchers and includes a University of Michigan co-author. It is scheduled to publish online the week of Jan. 15 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study reveals a pronounced regional imbalance in forest productivity, a key barometer of forest health that gauges tree growth and biomass accumulation. Over the past two decades, forests in the western United States, grappling with more severe climate change impacts, have exhibited a notable slowdown in productivity, while forests in the Eastern U.S., experiencing milder climate effects, have seen slightly accelerated growth.
Researchers discover huge methane deposits in Norwegian permafrost. And they are “migrating”
As the planet is warming, millions of cubic meters of methane could escape into atmosphere, triggering a catastrophe.
Beneath the icy grip of permafrost in Svalbard, an archipelago located between Norway and the North Pole, lies a hidden menace: tens of millions of cubic meters of methane; the authorities and science community have been aware of these deposits since a group of researchers confirmed their presence in a groundbreaking article published in December 2023 in the online magazine Frontiers in Earth Science.
A study peer-reviewed in the journal Nature Geoscience in July 2023 reveals that permafrost and glaciers in the high Arctic form an impermeable “cryospheric cap” that traps a large reservoir of subsurface methane, preventing it from reaching the atmosphere.
What no one knew until recently is that cryospheric vulnerability to warming is making releases of this methane possible and the methane deposits are capable of migrating beneath the cold seal of the permafrost, according to a statement by a group of scientists led by Thomas Birchall, a postdoctoral researcher at the Svalbard University Centre’s Department of Arctic Geology.
Montana Supreme Court upholds landmark climate ruling that said emissions can’t be ignored
Montana’s Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by the state’s Republican governor to block a landmark climate ruling that said regulators must consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions when issuing permits for fossil fuel development.
Justices, in a 5-2 Tuesday decision, declined the request from Gov. Greg Gianforte and three state agencies to block the August ruling from District Court Judge Kathy Seeley while an appeal by the state is pending before the high court. Seeley ruled a state law that prohibited agencies from considering the effect of emissions runs afoul of the state constitution’s requirement “to maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment.”
Seeley already rejected an earlier challenge by the state, saying it failed to identify flaws in her findings nor any irreparable harm if the ruling took effect.
John Kerry to step down after 3 years as Biden's top climate diplomat
After three years leading the Biden administration's efforts to work with other countries to curb climate change, John Kerry is planning to leave his role as climate envoy, a source close to his office confirmed to NPR.
Kerry's decision comes on the heels of the recent United Nations climate summit in Dubai, COP28, where for the first time the final agreement said the world needs to be "transitioning away" from fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil is the biggest cause of global warming.
How Biden’s climate law spurred a tax credit revolution
President Biden’s landmark climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, has garnered international interest (and scrutiny) for its lofty subsidies to lure developers to build clean energy projects in the US.
Less attention has been paid to how the IRA has transformed the US tax code, providing an incentive to corporate players outside of the energy space to fund renewable projects and lower their tax liability in the process.
This innovation, known as transferability, marks an important departure from the tax equity partnership, which is the predominant way to finance renewables. Under transferability, developers can sell tax credits to any corporation and use the cash to offset the high upfront costs for building projects. Corporations, meanwhile, get a chunk off their tax bill. […]
“This is a big policy change,” said Alfred Johnson, co-founder of Crux, a platform to facilitate transfers. “The US is going to be more competitive in the buildout of this infrastructure. We’re going to do it faster.”
The Pentagon will install rooftop solar panels as Biden pushes clean energy in federal buildings
The Defense Department will install solar panels on the Pentagon, part of the Biden administration’s plan to promote clean energy and “reestablish the federal government as a sustainability leader.”
The Pentagon is one of 31 government sites that are receiving $104 million in Energy Department grants that are expected to double the amount of carbon-free electricity at federal facilities and create 27 megawatts of clean-energy capacity while leveraging more than $361 million in private investment, the Energy Department said. […]
The solar panels are among several improvements set for the Pentagon, which also will install a heat pump system and solar thermal panels to reduce reliance on natural gas and fuel oil combustion systems
EU bans ‘misleading’ environmental claims that rely on offsetting
Terms such as “climate neutral” or “climate positive” that rely on offsetting will be banned from the EU by 2026 as part of a crackdown on misleading environmental claims.
On Wednesday, members of the European parliament [MEPs] voted to outlaw the use of terms such as “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral” or “eco” without evidence, while introducing a total ban on using carbon offsetting schemes to substantiate the claims.
Under the new directive, only sustainability labels using approved certification schemes will be allowed by the bloc. It comes amid widespread concern about the environmental impact of carbon offsetting schemes, which have often been used to justify labelling products “carbon neutral”, or imply that consumers can fly, buy new clothes or eat certain foods without making the climate crisis worse.
“This new legislation puts an end to misleading advertising for supposedly environmentally friendly products and thus enables consumers to make sustainable choices,” said Anna Cavazzini, the Green MEP and chair of the Committee of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.
A Minnesota Utility Is Swapping Coal for Solar. It’s Like Taking 780,000 Cars Off the Road
Inside Climate News
One of the largest coal plants in the country will soon be replaced by the nation’s biggest solar farm. It’s part of a growing trend that climate and environmental justice advocates say is necessary to mitigate the accelerating climate crisis while safeguarding the rural coal communities that have the most to lose from the clean energy transition.
On New Year’s Eve, Xcel Energy shut down one of three power generating units at Sherburne County Generating Station, Minnesota’s largest power plant and among the biggest coal-fired power plants in the Midwest. The utility, which has pledged to generate 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040, plans to shutter the facility’s remaining two units in 2026 and 2030.
The plant, known more commonly as Sherco, has been a cornerstone of Minnesota’s energy mix since first coming online in 1976, capable of producing a whopping 2.2 gigawatts of electricity—enough to power 1.5 million homes.
A cash crop that never runs out
Yale Climate Connections
Supplemental income from 50 wind turbines helps a fourth-generation family ranch stay viable.
The tall grass prairie of the Flint Hills provides food for cattle and on the Ferrell Ranch, wind to power 50 turbines. The 7,000-acre ranch in Beaumont, Kansas, was started by Pete Ferrell’s great-grandfather in 1888. But ranching is hard work, and success is dependent on the weather, so in the 1920s, Ferrell’s grandfather sold leases to extract and sell oil from the land. Those wells helped the ranch survive years when drought dried up income from the ranching operations.
But now Pete Ferrell is extracting another form of energy: wind. Since 2005, wind turbines have been producing renewable power for the grid and a reliable cash crop for the ranch.
Insect populations flourish in the restored habitats of solar energy facilities
Argonne National Laboratory
Two solar facilities built on rehabilitated agricultural land were restored with native plants. Argonne researchers observed pollinators thrive.
Bumblebees buzz from flower to flower, stopping for a moment under a clear blue Minnesota sky. Birds chirp, and tall grasses blow in the breeze. This isn’t a scene from a pristine nature preserve or national park. It is nestled between photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays on rehabilitated farmland.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory wanted to understand the ecological value of PV solar energy sites planted with native grasses and wildflowers. They examined how vegetation would establish and how insect communities would respond to the newly established habitat. The five-year field study looked at two solar sites in southern Minnesota operated by Enel Green Power North America. Both sites were built on retired agricultural land.